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From the Spring 2019 print issue

Master Chef Hing Fing Chan of MR CHOW Miami Beach

DiningOut: What drew you to a career in cooking?
Hing Fung Chan: At first, being a chef was just a job for me. However, after a while, I became more and more intrigued with cooking, especially as I started to learn new skills and cooking techniques. To this day, I still love learning new cooking techniques.

You formally began your cooking career in 1992 in your hometown of Hong Kong. What were some valuable lessons that you learned back then?
When I started my career in 1992, I worked very closely with veteran chefs whose teaching techniques were authoritative and strict. The younger chefs would be scolded for minor mistakes in the kitchen. When I look back at it, I really appreciate their teaching methods since it has shaped me to become the chef I am today.

How did you come across MR CHOW’s radar?
I was referred by a well-known chef in Hong Kong.

You were a part of the opening team at MR CHOW Miami back in 2009. Ten years later, the restaurant is still thriving, a feat many restaurants don’t accomplish. What is the secret to success here?
MR CHOW’s success lies in the food and those who make it. We only use the highest standard of ingredients, and we never cut corners. The same can be said about MR CHOW’s chefs. We are very disciplined and must go through rigorous training before becoming part of the MR CHOW team.

During your career at MR CHOW, you’ve also helped integrate chefs coming from Hong Kong and Shanghai to Miami. How do you help ease the transition?
Since I experienced first-hand moving from Hong Kong to the United States, I understand the difficulties of such an intense transition. The most difficult aspect is learning a new language, which just takes time and practice. Additionally, I like to take new chefs under my wing and help them adjust to the different U.S. culinary methods.

How have you seen the Miami dining scene evolve over this past decade?
I think Miami has changed a lot in the past 10 years, especially on the culinary scene. I’m proud that MR CHOW has withstood many of the changes. I would like to think it is because of our quality of service and cuisine.

How do you plan on celebrating the 10th anniversary of MR CHOW Miami?
I plan on celebrating with my fellow coworkers over a nice dinner.

Happy dining!

By DiningOut Miami Editors

From our Spring 2019 print issue

With a culinary career that spans the kitchens of India and Switzerland, Vijayudu Veena presents a style like no other. Overseeing all culinary operations of The Setai, chef Veena introduces the history of ancient spice trading routes by way of pan-Asian dishes at Jaya {2001 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 855.923.7899}, while simultaneously flexing his prowess over both land, sea, and everything Americana at The Ocean Grill. Did we mention he also has a hand in The Lobby Bar and The Courtyard? In between changing hats, we caught up chef Veena on his illustrious career and the constant draw of Jaya.

DiningOut: Who was influential to your cooking career?

Vijay Veena: There are many influences to my cooking including my parents, mentors, and chefs that I’ve worked with, like Floyd Cardoz for the NYT Cooking Series dinner for SOBEWFF.

What is your essential cooking tool in the kitchen?

Here at Jaya, it’s the wok.

What new dishes are you cooking up at Jaya this season?

Since we are so very focused on the freshest seasonal items, we will be introducing summer-inspired ingredients that are still in-line with our Southeast Asian cuisine and authentic cooking techniques.

Any pairings you would recommend?

Sakes are refreshing at this time, as well as our signature cocktails; all of which were selected and created to pair well with our menu items.

As a veteran of The Setai since 2008, what do you think is the one thing that keeps people coming back?

Listening to the guests and our service. I think that it has been the success formula for our property, since we have been awarded the Forbes Five Star for the fifth year in a row.

Happy dining!

DiningOut Miami Editors

Check out the latest dining news and events, all happening in Miami this week

Here is this week’s Miami food news:

Wednesday, May 29: Wine Down Wednesdays at Wolfgang’s Steakhouse
From 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Wednesday, head to Wolfgang’s Steakhouse {315 South Biscayne Boulevard, Downtown Miami; 305.487.7130} and get $5 glasses of house wine.

Thursday, May 30: Thursday Night Dinner Party at Villa Azur Miami Beach
As early as 6:30 p.m. every Thursday, go to Villa Azur Miami Beach {309 23 Street, Miami Beach; 305.763.8688} for Miami’s fanciest, sexiest dinner fête. While you’re there, indulge in upscale Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, enjoy live music, party with dolled-up dancers and champagne parades, dance to beats by resident DJ Stephan M, and see Miami’s finest donning their finest—all until the wee hours of Friday morning. Reservations are required and can be made here.

Friday, May 31: Summer Fridays at Boulud Sud Miami
Every Friday this summer, get a free wine flight with the purchase of an appetizer at Boulud Sud Miami {255 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Downtown Miami; 305.421.8800}. Available from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., all wines will be hand selected by the restaurant’s Head Sommelier, Daniel Chaviano, and the theme or region of the flight will change weekly. As if that weren’t enough, Boulud Sud Miami will also extend its Friday happy hour, offering guests $5 draught and bottled beers, $6 frozen cocktails, $8 wine by the glass, $9 cocktails, and $5 select bites from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Happy dining!

By Jennifer Agress | Miami Editor

Mark your calendars for Saturday, June 8

Kiki on the River

Kiki on the River

Pay a visit to the Miami River’s chicest indoor/outdoor restaurant and lounge, Kiki on the River {450 NW North River Drive, Miami; 786.502.3243}, and you’ll feel like you’ve transported right to the Greek isles. Go there on National Rosé Day, and you’ll feel like you’re in paradise. On Saturday, June 8, grab your favorite people, snag a table on the Bougainvillea-draped terrace, and pair made-from-scratch Greek plates like Watermelon and Feta Salad and Salmon Saganaki with $50 bottles of Whispering Angel rosé. Opa! This deal will be available on Saturday, June 8, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

American Social

Is there anything better than rosé on a hot summer day? (Okay, okay… maybe rosé and a yacht.) Head to Brickell favorite, American Social {690 SW 1 Court, Brickell; 305.223.7004} for $8 glasses of 3 by Wade California Rosé. Fitting in with the restaurant’s elevated sports bar atmosphere, this wine is from NBA legend Dwayne Wade’s private label. This deal will be available on Saturday, June 8, from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Nikki Beach Miami

At Nikki Beach Miami {1 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach; 305.538.1111}, life is always a party! On June 8, celebrate National Rosé Day with “Rosé at the Disco.” During this roller disco-themed fête, there will be $5 glasses of rosé, $25 rosé bottles, live music by Felipe Kaval and Keidy, and other entertainment. The a la carte lunch menu will be available throughout, and there will even be a specialty drink: the $17 Froze in a Disco Ball with rosé, vodka, and blended organic berries. This deal will be available on Saturday, June 8, from Noon to 6 p.m.

Villa Azur

Hidden in the heart of South Beach, Villa Azur {309 23 Street, Miami Beach; 305.763.8688} brings the finest of dining, entertainment, music, and art all into one incredibly sexy place. Order plates of avant-garde French-Mediterranean fare, like Truffle French Ravioles with truffle carpaccio or Dover Sole with a preserved lemon vinaigrette, and pair it with your choice of an extensive list of rosés from France, Austria, and beyond. It’ll be one evening in Miami you won’t forget! Villa Azur opens at 6:30 p.m. nightly.

Happy dining!

By Jennifer Agress | Miami Editor

Kiki on the River has daily specials to get you through it

Kiki on the River

At Kiki on the River {450 NW North River Drive, Miami; 786.502.3243}, ambiance is everything. Evoking the spirit of the Greek isles, this romantic, Bougainvillea-clad hotspot could be straight from the movies. Go there any day of the week, and you’ll find Miami’s illustrious “beautiful people” eating plate after plate of traditional Greek fare. No matter where you sit, you’re guaranteed a stunning view of the Miami River—so grab a seat amidst draping vines on the relaxed outdoor terrace or inside, by the floor-to-ceiling windows, and take advantages of the sexy spot’s must-try offers:

Get oysters and Champagne, served tableside

New for the weekend, Kiki on the River invites guests to try its oyster shucking cart! Available every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., an expert will bring the festive cart to your table, shuck 12 fresh oysters, and give you a bottle of Dom Perignon to wash it all down with. This offer is available for $250.

Celebrate Golden Hour.

Every Monday through Friday, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., guests can enjoy discounts on select drinks and bites. Find “Golden Hour Cocktails” like the Italian American Spritz with Tito’s vodka and Aperol, and the Cucumber Southside with Aviation Gin and Owens Mint Cucumber Lime Craft Mixer, both for $10. On the Golden Hour Bites menu, get $10 Assorted Spreads, $7 Greek Fries with feta, select oysters for $1.50 each, and more. Prices for drinks and bites vary.

Do Sunday dinner like Yia-Yia used to

Take your family dinner to Kiki! Every Sunday, this trendy dining destination offers Sunday Lamb Supper for up to six guests. The meal is served family-style and includes a whole leg of lamb and Kiki’s signature Lemon Potatoes. This offer is priced at $189 for the group.

Happy dining!

By Jennifer Agress | Miami Editor

He will represent the Magic City at Grand Cochon in Chicago on September 15

Jorgie Ramos of BARLEY

With an afternoon that included nearly 600 people, The Biltmore Hotel {1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables; 855.454.0196}, 1,500 pounds of heritage breed pork raised on family farms, five competing chefs, a mixology competition, music by DJ Zima, and a sommelier “Somm Smackdown,” it’s safe to say that this year’s Cochon555 Miami was a success.

The main part of the event was the culinary competition, where contestants presented 30+ dishes (six from each chef), all made with one key ingredient: heritage breed pig. The five competing chefs were: Jorgie Ramos of BARLEY, Karla Hoyos of The Bazaar by Jose Andrés, Fernando Desa of Goya, Daniel Bouza of PokéBao, and Jimmy Lebron of 27 Restaurant & Bar. Using a Duroc/Berkshire/Chester White Cross Pig from Miami Purveyors, Chef Jorgie Ramos was named the “Prince of Pork.” His dishes? A mouthwatering menu that included Head & Trotters Croquetas with caramelized onions and brain soubise; Abuelas Empanada Gallega with chorizo, green peas, onion, relish, and patatas sofrito; Masa De Puerco with pineapple escabeche, avocado, red onion, Serrano peppers, and herbs; Butifarra Tortellini with sofrito fumet, sweet plantains, chorizo, yuca mofongo, and greens; La Caja China with frijoles negro, smoked manteca, and herbed yogurt; and Natilla Cubana with salted pork caramel, whipped pork lard merengue, and sugared chicharron.

Cochon555 also hosted two beverage competitions this year: Punch Kings presented by El Tesoro Tequila and the Somm Smackdown presented by Wines of Bordeaux and Germany. The first, a spirit competition that challenged five top barkeeps to make a whole-bottle punch for a panel of six notable judges, crowned Arleen Delima of Repour the winner. Her drink, “¡No pare, sigue, sigue!”, combined a whole bottle of El Tesoro™ Blanco Tequila with a pineapple shrub-tepache mix, fresh lemon juice, agave syrup and Xocolatl Mole Bitters. The Somm Smackdown presented by Wines of Bordeaux and Germany invited five top Miami sommeliers to select a favorite wine to pair with the dishes the competing chefs created. The competition was fierce—it involved Kirsta Grauberger of FallBall Group, Joseph Gewarges of Fontainebleau Miami Beach, Jen Schmitt of Zuma, Jacqueline Coleman of Biscayne Times and Let’s Eat Magazine, and Daniel Toral of 50 Eggs Hospitality Inc. Toral took home the trophy with his Kiralyudvar, 2016 Sparkling Furmint from Tokaji, Hungary and his Enderle & Mall, 2016 “Liaison” Pinot Noir from Baden, Germany.

Between the competing chefs, local Miami vendors, sweet surprises, and more, guests of Cochon555 had 40+ dishes to try, all paired with endless wines and handcrafted cocktails. Cochon555 Founder Brady Lowe bestowed the regional title to Chef Ramos—who will represent Miami at the national finale, Grand Cochon, on September 15, 2019 in Chicago.

Happy dining!

By Jennifer Agress | Miami Editor

Two words: free wine

Boulud Sud

FriYAY, indeed!

Starting May 24, the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend, Daniel Boulud’s popular coastal Mediterranean restaurant in Downtown Miami, Boulud Sud {255 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Downtown Miami; 305.421.8800}, will give you another way to celebrate the weekend.

Two words: “Summer Fridays.”

As part of this deal, every Friday throughout the summer, guests of the restaurant will get a complimentary, hand-selected flight of wines with the purchase of any appetizer. Led by Head Sommelier Daniel Chaviano, the theme of the flight will change weekly. Some of the themes guests can expect include: Artisanal Fine Wines of Sicily, Augustan Wine Imports of Catalonia and Conca Del Riu Anoia, Terroir Selections of Southern France, and Angel’s Share Wines of Macedonia and Peloponnese, Greece.

But that’s not all. To go along with this Friday deal, Boulud Sud will extend its Friday happy hour. That means, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., draught and bottled beers will be available for $5, frozen cocktails for $6, wine by the glass for $8, and regular cocktails for $9. As far as food, items from the select Bites menu will also be available for $5.

This deal will kick off this Friday, May 24, and continue every Friday throughout Summer 2019. It will run from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.  

Happy dining!

By Jennifer Agress | Miami Editor

And Jaya at The Setai is where it’s all happening

Executive Chef Vijayudu Veena of Jaya at The Setai

If you’re a whisky lover, you know about The Macallan. If you don’t, let us clue you in: it’s the world’s most admired single malt Scotch whisky.

And to celebrate The Macallan’s popularity, the brand has launched The World’s Best Scotch Experiences in six key cities—New York, Chicago, Toronto, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Miami. Through this engaging initiative, the esteemed whisky brand has teamed up with top culinary and mixology tastemakers in each city to show just how elevated The Macallan can be.

Here in Miami, The Macallan team is bringing this experience to life at Jaya at The Setai {2001 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 855.923.7899}, where Executive Chef Vijayudu Veena has created a special Macallan-inspired tasting menu that matches the whisky’s outstanding quality and distinctive character. To round out the experience, the menu is complimented by a selection of Macallan cocktails and whisky samples curated by Food & Beverage Director Julien Labays.

“When I tasted The Macallan, I immediately thought the unique spice flavors of the spirits would pair perfectly with one of our most popular signature dishes, the Peking Duck,” said Executive Chef Veena.

The Peking Duck, a staple dish on the menu at Jaya at The Setai for over ten years, is cured with a blend of spices, including Chinese five spice, cinnamon, and star anise. For The Macallan version, the sherry cask used to mature the whisky is broken down into wood chips that are then put into a smoking gun, which is presented to the guests inside a glass dome and revealed in a dramatic tableside presentation. Those key spices, cinnamon and star anise, are also infused in the signature cocktail, The Rare Cask Old Fashioned. These, along with Macallan-infused chocolate truffles, make ‘The Essences of Oak,’ an exclusive dining currently offered at The Setai, Miami Beach in honor of The World’s Best Scotch Experiences.

“The extra stage of smoking it with the wood we’ve repurposed from the sherry oak cask The Macallan is matured in really takes the dish to the next level,” says Executive Chef Veena.

The Essence of Oak is priced at $150 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. Individually, The Rare Cask Old Fashioned is priced at $90, the Peking Duck is priced at $55, and the chocolate truffles are priced at $15.

Happy dining!

By Jennifer Agress | Miami Editor

Check out the latest dining news and events, all happening in Miami this week

Villa Azur Miami Beach

Here is this week’s Miami food news:

Tuesday, May 14: Wine Discounts at Villa Azur Miami Beach
Every Tuesday, head to Villa Azur Miami Beach {309 23 Street, Miami Beach; 305.763.8688} and get 50% off all wine and Champagne bottles priced under $400.

Wednesday, May 15: Southern France Wine Dinner at Boulud Sud Miami
Craving a trip to southern France? Go to Boulud Sud Miami {255 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Downtown Miami; 305.421.8800} for a three-course, French-inspired dinner. The evening will start with a glass of Commanderie de Peyrassol Rosé de Provence in the bar and lounge, and move on to a dinner led by Head Sommelier Daniel Chaviano, Executive Chef Clark Bowen, and Pastry Chef Saeko Nemoto. On the menu, diners can also expect to find regional specialties of the destination, like Brandade De Morue, Tuna Crudo A La Provencale, Spring Roasted Lamb Saddle, and Provencal Pagne De Basket. Each course will be paired with hand-selected wines from southern France, all picked by Chaviano, himself. This dinner will take place on Wednesday, May 15, at 7 p.m. The seated dinner will start promptly at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are priced at $85 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. Tickets can be purchased here. The full menu can be viewed here.

Friday, May 17: Taste of the Nation 2019
Join Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign at one of Miami’s most popular tasting events, Taste of the Nation for No Kid Hungry. Hosted at Ice Palace Films Studio, this 31st-annual event will include a silent auction, gourmet cuisine, artisan beer, craft cocktails, and decadent desserts from Miami’s top chefs, sommeliers, mixologists, and brewers. Timon Balloo of SUGARCANE | raw bar grill (Chef Chair), Cesar Zapata of Phuc Yea (Co-Chair), Paula DaSilva of The Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale (Co-Chair), and Alex Kuk and Diego Ng of Temple Street Eatery (Co-Chairs) will lead the event. All proceeds will support No Kid Hungry’s work to end childhood hunger in America. This event will run from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are priced at $150 per person and can be purchased here.

Happy dining!

By Jennifer Agress | Miami Editor

Live the good life at Gérard Bertrand’s castle on a cliff

Gérard Bertrand

Perched on a ridge high above the Mediterranean Sea on the coast of southern France—in the nationally- protected Massif de la Clape park—the whimsical Château L’Hospitalet shines like a diamond in one of the world’s most treasured wine regions.

Emulating the “joie de vivre,” this 1561 French estate is part biodynamic winery, part Michelin star restaurant, part three-star hotel, and as if that wasn’t alluring enough, part Gérard Bertrand headquarters. Inspired by nature, a simple walk through this property will bring you through nearly 2,500 acres of limestone hills, friendly wildlife, and fields of rare orchids swaying in the wind. Designed with wanderlust in mind, Château L’Hospitalet is also home to a wine cellar, a tennis court, golf putting green, swimming pool, gym, art gallery, local craft shops, and, at the heart of it all, some really tasty Gérard Bertrand wines.

Wine tourism has made a name for itself in the travel sector, but few have perfected the art quite like Gérard Bertrand. When Bertrand himself (lovingly called “Le Grand,” or “the tall guy,” in French) got a phone call from Jacques Ribourel, who then owned L’Hospitalet, he didn’t know what to expect. That was 2001, and Ribourel, a man who saw the future of wine tourism before the world was cultured enough to appreciate it, wanted “Le Grand” to take over his precious château. Still early in his career, Bertrand was nervous about purchasing a property that large, partially because he didn’t know if the bank would even help him finance it. After much debate, Bertrand took the risk in April 2002—and the reward was sweet, indeed.

When you visit Château L’Hospitalet today, what you see, taste, and experience will astound you. Dedicated to great food, great wine, and great living, guests can’t visit the estate without enjoying a meal at L’Art de Vivre, where head chef Laurent Chabert creates modern, organic plates inspired by his Mediterranean surroundings, and a sommelier pairs those plates with Gérard Bertrand wines. In the vineyards, guests can explore the limestone terroirs of the South of France, join guided wine-making tours and free tastings of Gérard Bertrand’s fine wines, and when you find bottles you can’t live without, visit the on-site wine shop. There, you’ll find the most exclusive collections of Bertrand’s finest vintages, which you can take home with you to savor your days at Château L’Hospitalet long after you leave.

Rooted in the belief that food and wine are forms of art, Bertrand’s L’Hospitalet is a retreat to enjoy other art forms, as well. Celebrating the “art de vivre” of the Mediterranean, Château L’Hospitalet has an art gallery where local and international artists alike can put their proudest works on display. In fact, from now until May 31, Narbonne artist Olivier Domin will exhibit his colorful“pop art” inspired by artists like Egon Schiele, Pablo Picasso, and Jackson Pollock. For guests who like to do more than just peruse and buy art, they can make some of their own. At L’Hospitalet, a series of artist-led workshops gives any budding talent the opportunity to let their inner da Vinci shine.

Outside of wine, Bertrand’s greatest passion is jazz music. In 2004, he launched his first-ever Jazz à L’Hospitalet, a five-day festival that celebrates all things jazz, food, and wine. Returning for its 16th summer at the end of this July, this “fête” invites music lovers of all ages to enjoy a magical night in what feels like a real-life fairytale. Think: L’Hospitalet, a light-strung courtyard, an elaborate buffet prepared by none other than chef Chabert himself, and every night, jazz under the stars by some of the greats. This year’s lineup won’t disappoint; guests can already buy tickets to performances by Melody Gardot, Craig David, Ben L’Oncle Soul, Zazie, and Lisa Simone.

With Bertrand’s influence over the past 17 years, Château L’Hospitalet has blossomed into one of the world’s premier destinations for wine tourism. And as anyone who knows Bertrand will tell you, a visit there is everything the wine guru is all about—living your best life.

Happy dining!

By Jennifer Agress | Miami Editor